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Inside the Moment: Nothing Short of Spectacular

Flyers contributor breaks down each of Kevin Hayes shorthanded goals at critical moments

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

The four shorthanded goals that Flyers center Kevin Hayes has tallied this season are the most by a Flyers player since Matt Read tallied four in 2013-14.

A significant part of the player's value is his ability to kill penalties, whether by controlling the puck and ragging time off the clock or by generating some shorthanded scoring chances.

What has made Hayes' shorties this season so notable is that all four have come in vital situations.

Here's a look inside each of the four plays:

OCT. 26 VS. COLUMBUS
The Situation: The Flyers trailed, 4-2, midway through the third period before goals by Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk knotted the score at 4-4. With 3:57 left in regulation, Sean Couturier received a tripping minor for taking down Columbus' Josh Anderson. The Blue Jackets now had a chance to retake the lead with the Flyers' Selke Trophy candidate in the penalty box. 

The Play: Hayes intercepted a cross-ice pass by Cam Atkinson near the defensive blueline intended for Ryan Murray. Hayes went off on a breakaway against Joonas Korpisalo. Hayes went to his backhand, then forehand, then backhand again but Korpisalo made the initial save. Undaunted, Hayes stayed with the puck and quickly jammed it home for a 5-4 Flyers lead.

The Outcome: Hayes' goal was the third of five unanswered Flyers tallies. Philadelphia won the game, 7-4.

HAYES: "It's a hard league to score. If it was easy, we'd all have 80 goals a year. But it's fun to score goals. Everyone wants to score. You've just got to stick to it."Video: CBJ@PHI: Hayes steals puck, scores SHG to break tie

JAN. 8 VS. WASHINGTON
The Situation: The Flyers had just completed a dismal 1-4-1 road trip, and returned home to face the powerhouse Capitals. The score was tied at 2-2 after the first period. Washington dominated the second period, with a huge edge in puck possession and shots. Carter Hart almost singlehandedly kept the score deadlocked. The Flyers then took back-to-back penalties.

The Play: Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck around the boards to teammate John Carlson at the point, where Scott Laughton stepped up and bumped Carlson off the puck and into the boards with a clean hit. Hayes pounced on the puck, skated off on a breakaway. Moving to his right on the backhand, Hayes pulled the puck around goalie Braden Holtby and deposited it in the net. 

The Outcome: Hayes' shorthanded goal proved to be the game winner in a 3-2 Flyers victory. The win began a 7-2-1 stretch for the Flyers on either side of the All-Star break, which included victories over the Caps, Boston, St. Louis, a win and a comeback regulation tie (overtime loss) against Pittsburgh, and a win over Colorado in which Hayes' shorthanded magic would also prove crucial.

HAYES: "I was going to shoot at the beginning and I think he was taking it away. I've got a long stick, so figured I might as well go out as far as I can."Video: WSH@PHI: Hayes nets backhander for breakaway SHG

FEB. 1 VS. COLORADO
The Situation: In their quest to take three out of four points over the weekend, the Flyers played from ahead against the Avalanche but the lead did not feel secure. Every time the Flyers would forge ahead by two goals to get some breathing room, the Avalanche would get one back to cut the deficit to a single goal. Shortly after Colorado made it a 4-3 game, Alex Lyon stoned J.T. Compher on a breakaway. Then, with exactly five minutes left on the third period clock, Travis Konecny was called for hooking Matt Calvert.

The Play: With 38 seconds left on the man advantage, Colorado won an offensive zone left circle draw and controlled the puck. Hayes got his stick on a a pass by Cale Makar, tipping the puck away and starting a 2-on-1 counterattack joined by Claude Giroux. With Makar sliding to take away a pass across, Hayes shot the puck from the left circle. His snap shot found the five-hole on goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The Outcome: Hayes' shorthanded goal deflated the Avalanche. The Flyers went on to win, 6-3. 

HAYES: "I was thinking pass all the way, but it wasn't there. I might have fanned on it a little bit, but it worked out."Video: COL@PHI: Hayes beats Grubauer for the SHG

FEB. 3 AT DETROIT
The Situation: For two periods, the Flyers dominated puck possession and had the lion's share of scoring chances but only a skinny 1-0 lead to show for it against a Red Wings team mired in the NHL cellar. The third period got off to a shaky start for the Flyers with a couple of turnovers, lost 50-50 puck battles, two icings and then a high sticking penalty on Scott Laughton near the defensive blueline. 

The Play: Hronek attempted a pass back to center point from the left circle, but Hayes was alert to it and got his stick on the puck to tip it over the blueline and rumble off on a breakaway. Calmly, Hayes went on to fire a forehand shot past goaltender Jonathan Bernier, low to the glove side. 

The Outcome: Hayes' fourth shorthander of the season, and second in as many games, deflated the Red Wings. Matt Niskanen added another shorthanded goal -- a long-distance empty netter -- to seal a 3-0 win in Elliott's 40th career NHL shutout. 

HAYES: "It's not something you can do every game, or most games. But I've come up with the puck the last couple games and, thankfully, it's gone in. It's a good feeling."Video: PHI@DET: Hayes buries breakaway shot for SHG

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